Field Note #81: IPM Pavan’s First Days in Nepal
The airplane hits the tarmac, and I wake from my four hour nap on the plane. I realize I have finally arrived to my destination. The long 24 hour journey from Atlanta has now brought me to my new home, Kathmandu. I peel open my eyelids, stretch my legs and double check that I have all my necessary documents. I walk off the plane and realize I am finally here. Life is not going to be the same as it was a few hours ago. No, things have changed.
I maneuver through immigration, thank God that my bags made it through and walk out the doors of the airport eager to see Kaushal (Wine To Water office staff). I had only seen photos of him on Facebook, but I hoped he would see my 6 foot 3 inch body towering over the mass of Nepali taxis drivers outside the door. Once I crossed the street, I saw him with a Wine To Water hat on and a smile to cool my nerves. My luggage is packed in the back, and we hit the road.
The roads in Nepal will make any person from the U.S. quickly feel like the world has been turned upside down, or it will just make you realize they drive on the opposite side of the road. Honking horns start to fill my ears, with people everywhere and bright colorful lights guiding us through the streets. We pull away from the city noise down a road with no street sign and only enough room for one car to travel down. Winding around sharp corners, we arrive at Kaushal’s parents’ home: my new home. I quickly am greeted with smiles and “Namaskar.”
The first meal was a beautiful attempt at something American, but I quickly tell them that I want to eat what they eat. I did not come to a new culture to eat things that really only taste good in the U.S. Dinner comes to an end, and the bed that was on my mind for hours on the plane ride has arrived. I lay down, and the lights go out.
I wake up to the sounds of roosters, stray dogs and people outside beginning their day. The hot shower brings my jet lagged body to life, and I feel the day can begin. Quickly, I realize that eggs, bacon, and biscuits will not be on the menu. I am presented soup, a boiled egg, and what they call a pancake. With no maple syrup on the side, I devour the food in front of me and filter out any strange flavor experiences I have. Then we go outside, take off our slippers and back out the motorcycle. Now, I had felt that a car accident was not out of the range of possibilities the night before, but hopping on a motorcycle was a whole new experience. In my whole life, I have never looked death in the eye as many times as I did in that 15 minute drive to the office.
Life in Nepal is different, but that is what makes it great. Different never means it is wrong. It is part of being in a global community of people that just want to live and serve others. We see differences, and we embrace them. The first few days here have already been such a experience, and I can not wait to see what the next year holds for myself and the Wine To Water community in Nepal.
- Pavan, Nepal IPM